UK School Doubles Down on Policy Revoking Playtime Privileges from 5-Year-Old Black Boy Over His Haircut 

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A British mother has accused her son’s school of being “culturally biased” after the 5-year-old was banned from recess over his “extreme skin fade” haircut.

Leaders at the Summerhill Primary Academy in Tipton, England, said hairstyles like Josiah Sharpe‘s are forbidden because they “detract from learning.” However, the little boy’s mother doesn’t see it that way.

Josiah Sharpe
Josiah Sharpe’s mother said she had her son’s hair cut on the back and sides to help hide his traction alopecia. (Photo by Lensi Photography)

Danica Sharpe, who’s a hairstylist, argued the policy discriminates against her son, who has coarsely-textured hair and suffers from traction alopecia. She said she had the back and sides of his hair shaved to help hide the common hair loss condition.

“When he first started here, I did try a grade two haircut [which leaves 1/4 inch of hair on the scalp], but within three days it had started to grow out and it looked a total mess,” the frustrated mother told Black Country Live.

“He’s been having this haircut since he was 1,” she added. “The only time the school had said anything about it previously was when he was in reception and he had a patch on the back of his head. And it wasn’t there intentionally. It was because he’d moved while at the barber’s.”

Little Josiah has since lost his playtime privileges and won’t get them back until his hair grows to a length deemed satisfactory by the school, according to The Sun Online. Sharpe slammed the school over the unfair treatment of her son and dubbed the policy “culturally biased” for trying a force a hairstyle that isn’t suitable for her child.

“‘The hair policy lacks cultural awareness, as a grade two haircut is not fair for Josiah’s type of hair and others from different racial backgrounds,” Sharpe argued, noting that people of Afro-Caribbean descent are often made to keep their hair cut short for a “smart and tidy” appearance unless the hair is braided or in locs.

“It’s not a fashion statement,” she continued. “In our culture, hair at a grade two or three is regarded outgrown and untidy for a curly/coiled hair type.”

Still, Kerry Rochester, who’s executive director of the school, says Josiah’s haircut is in clear violation of the rules, which state that “shaved heads or hairstyles that are deemed by the school to be extreme, aren’t acceptable” and that a student’s hair can be no shorter than “No. 2″ length.

“Unfortunately, Josiah’s hair has been styled in line with what we understand to be the ‘skin fade’ style,” Rochester said in a statement. “His hair is tapered around the back and sides to what is known as ‘zero fade’ or ‘bald fade.’ Therefore, the manner in which Josiah’s hair is styled, falls below the grade two length as set out in our policy.”

The school leader also denied Sharpe’s accusations and insisted the school’s hair policy is “inclusive” of all students and doesn’t discriminate “against a single child or specific racial background.”

Rochester said she tried working with Sharpe’s family to resolve the issue and said the school even consulted with Afro-Caribbean hairdressers in order to reach the decisions made, according to Daily Mail.

“We take our school policies and rules extremely seriously and impress the importance of both within our school community,” she concluded. “Unfortunately, if the family continue to ignore the school rules then appropriate sanctions have to be made.”

Sharpe said she has since had to explain to her son why he was singled out at school.

“I’ve explained it all to Josiah,” she said. “I’ve told him he can grow his hair out and put it in plaits, but he wants to keep it how it is.”

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